The Fool's Errand

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Hobbes99
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The Fool's Errand

Post by Hobbes99 » Wed Feb 01, 2006 8:35 pm

Hi there, people :)

I'm hoping that one of the developers might let me know if they'd be kind enough to ponder on this particular title for inclusion into future ScummVM development. The Fool's Errand is a wonderful game that was developed initially for the Mac in 1987. Rather than type out a full description of it, I hope you'll forgive me for copying somebody else's review (it would be against forum rules to link to his actual review, given it's location on an abandonware site), especially as I think his description is a not only a good one - but one that is familiar to my own sentiments;

"Designed by Cliff Johnson, one of the best puzzle designers ever, the concept behind Fool's Errand is so original that it defies categorization. Suffice to say that it is part devilish puzzle collection, part novel, part adventure and an all-around classic.

While the game would deserve classic status on the merits of unique puzzles alone, it is the masterful blend of puzzles with an enchanting, well-written story (a medieval Fool who runs errands for people) that evolve, that makes Fool's Errand a uniquely original game. When each puzzle is solved, the player gains access to more story (with more puzzles to solve). In a master stroke unmatched in creativity to this day, Cliff even designed an uber- puzzle-- a big puzzle that can only be solved once all the smaller puzzles are solved and all the story pages are revealed. Solving this overarching puzzle requires careful re-reading of the game's story, as clues are hidden between the lines and old paragraphs take on new meanings.

Puzzles in the game are wonderfully diverse. Some, such as the card game you will play, are downright original, and even the derivative ones (such as the dozens of word puzzles) are hardly ever boring. Characters in the story, which sounds as if they were plucked from Alice in Wonderland, are fleshed out with great detail and confidence. There's really no fault I can think of for this game, except that you will be sorry to see it end when it does. See for yourself why I think this game deserves to be on every "Best Computer Games" list; if you are even remotely interested in puzzle games, Fool's Errand is a must-have."


Despite the fact that The Fool's Errand defies categorisation, if it belongs anywhere, it deserves to be in the loving company of ScummVM. :) The Fool's Errand was also made available for free download from Cliff Johnson's (the deveolper) website, in each of it's incarnations (Mac, PC & Amiga). Without a doubt, though, the Mac version was the prize to behold - in it's unextravegant, yet beautifully drawn original black & white. The PC & Amiga versions were redrawn, in colour - and all the worse for it, as Cliff himself unsubtly implies on his website. As such, for those who wouldn't know a Mac from a truck, this beautiful game remains unatainable for most PC using devotees.

I don't know how tall an order it would be to get the Mac version of this game to work under ScummVM, but given that other operating systems have been tackled & tamed, I thought it easily worth the time to ask.

Also, for sheer sake of anybody's curiosity, have a look at the game on Cliff's website, here;

http://www.fools-errand.com/01-the-fool ... /index.htm

Be sure to look at the 'screen shots' link. I defy you all not to be woo'd by it's exquisite black & white charms. :) Although I wouldn't be so presumptious as to ask (out of place), I don't yet know if Cliff Johnson would be agreeable to the prospect of his game being emulated with ScummVM - but I strongly suspect that he'd be rather pleased at the prospect (not least of all so that PC user's could finally enjoy the game as was intended). Furthermore, Cliff is hard at work on the first sequel, titled The Fool & his Money, due for release this April! :)

In any case, I'm grateful for any response & I wish you all the best for the future of ScummVM. :wink:

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eriktorbjorn
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Post by eriktorbjorn » Wed Feb 01, 2006 9:21 pm

I remember those games. The Fool's Errand and 3 in Three were quite interesting, because they both told a rather whimsical story held together by puzzles. Lots of puzzles. Sometimes very annoying puzzles, but many of them were quite clever, too. At the Carnival was, as I remember it, a collection of rather annoying puzzles with no story at all.

I agree that the hi-res black-and-white Macintosh graphics are much nicer than the colorized low-res versions. Much of the graphics are silhouettes, so colour doesn't add much anyway. I may be mis-remembering, but I believe the end credits for the Macintosh version of The Fool's Errand said it was written in some dialect of BASIC.

I don't know if these games are within the scope of ScummVM, but it would be nice to be able to replay them some day, without having to resort to hardware emulation.

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Hobbes99
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Post by Hobbes99 » Sat Feb 04, 2006 2:34 pm

Hiya Erik,

Thanks for responding. :) I can't claim to have played At the Carnival (was it an earlier title?), but I'm both pleased and rather impressed that you remember The Fool's Errand at all - what a learnéd bunch you are ... :mrgreen:

In any case, I shall keep my fingers tentatively crossed for The Fool's Errand's inclusion into the ScummVM preservation suite. It's certainly a lovely slice of computer-game history, and as you say, the day we are able to play these games without resorting to hardware emulation will be all the finer for it.

I am very intrigued by TFE's sequel & look forward to playing it in April - but I rather doubt that any developer will have the guts to create a game in black & white again for quite some time. EA Presents, Schindler's List, a game for all the family, mayhap ..?

Hail to ScummVM!

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eriktorbjorn
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Post by eriktorbjorn » Sat Feb 04, 2006 5:24 pm

Hobbes99 wrote:Hiya Erik,

Thanks for responding. :) I can't claim to have played At the Carnival (was it an earlier title?), but I'm both pleased and rather impressed that you remember The Fool's Errand at all - what a learnéd bunch you are ... :mrgreen:
According to his Web page, The Fool's Errand was published in 1987, At the Carnival in 1988 and 3 in Three in 1989.
Hobbes99 wrote:In any case, I shall keep my fingers tentatively crossed for The Fool's Errand's inclusion into the ScummVM preservation suite. It's certainly a lovely slice of computer-game history, and as you say, the day we are able to play these games without resorting to hardware emulation will be all the finer for it.
I hope I wasn't giving the wrong impression before. I'm not aware of anyone working on supporting these games. I'm not even aware of anyone having asked Cliff Johnson about them.

By the way, I just read one of the interviews with him on his Web page. Apparently he prefers the Macintosh graphics, too. :)

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Post by fingolfin » Sat Feb 04, 2006 8:44 pm

Personally I don't thinkt that this game fits into ScummVM. It's not a point-and-click adventure game where you use mouse clicks to control actors moving around the screen.

I am not saying that TFE is a bad game or anything -- it just doesn't fit into ScummVM, just like Quake doesn't fit (well, maybe it's a tiny little bit less unfit, but unfit it is nevertheless).

BTW, we are not a generic "preservation suite" as you seem to believe.

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Hobbes99
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Post by Hobbes99 » Sun Feb 19, 2006 2:03 pm

Hiya, people :mrgreen:

Thanks for taking the time to respond. fingolfin, I feel I should clarify that not for a moment did I consider ScummVM to be a 'generic' preservation suite - I've followed it's development for some years & have seen numerous examples of the titles you've opted to support, and those you have not (wasn't Another World under consideration at one time, too?). I recognise that you must receive a great many entirely inappropriate suggestions for inclusion & as such, it was with a good deal of consideration that I even made my first post.

You're quite right that the game is not a traditional point-and-click adventure where you use mouse controls to control the protagonists movements about the screen - but there are other similarities to adventures that might warrent Fool's Errand's association with the genre.

In truth, The Fool's Errand (as I implied in my initial post) isn't easily categorised - it's not simply an adventure game, nor is it merely a puzzle game. One such aspect that might lean it's association to the adventure game genre, is the fact that it contains a narrative - something that would rarely, if ever, be considered the hallmark of a puzzle title. In fact, it wasn't until the much later psuedo-adventures such as Myst, 7th Guest and the like, that such a fudging of styles would become acknowledged.

If we were merely trying to argue a case for The Fool's Errand, we might also say that graphic adventures are also a means of linking puzzle after puzzle via narrative, that later graphic adventures (such as Gabriel Knight 3: Blood of the Sacred, Blood of the Damned and even Grim Fandango, before Monkey Island 4) completely redefine what we've associated as the manner in which we play an adventure game. The Fool's Errand is further different from action adventures in that it is not a game of reflexive ability, requiring refined physical skills - something which would have probably been argued against the likes of Another World.

So whether you'd consider The Fool's Errand to be an adventure game or not, would most likely come down to individual perceptions, coloured by the titles ability to win your affections. I'm not a big fan of the Myst & 7th Guest games, but I think it would be a great disservice to Cliff Johnson to simply bundle The Fool's Errand in such a category.

Also, I can see that ScummVM's umbrella of consideration has broadened considerably since it's initial fledgling steps. With that broadening, you've moved beyond exclusively Scumm-based graphic adventures, beyond LucasArts/LucasGames titles - and are all the better for it. However ScummVM progresses I'll be grateful for it's existence in whatever form that is. The choices of what to include or exclude must, of course, be yours - but for my own part, I honestly feel that the inclusion of The Fool's Errand would be not only a wonderful acknowledgment of the diversity of adventures, but also tribute to a beautifully crafted title that deserves to be remembered and played.
eriktorbjorn wrote:I hope I wasn't giving the wrong impression before. I'm not aware of anyone working on supporting these games. I'm not even aware of anyone having asked Cliff Johnson about them.

By the way, I just read one of the interviews with him on his Web page. Apparently he prefers the Macintosh graphics, too. :)
Don't worry - you didn't give me the wrong impression & I didn't misread what you said. I'm simply keeping my fingers crossed that one of you guys might consider including the game. :wink:

The interview made for very interesting reading - thanks for that!

Also, you're quite right that (as far as I know) Cliff Johnson hasn't been asked if he'd consent to inclusion - although I had considered this, too, before I posted here. In absolute honesty, I feel quite sure that he'd be very receptive to the idea of seeing the Mac version of the game emulated on PC. Not only is he working on the sequel to be released soon (this could only afford him extra publicity), but he offers all versions for free download on his web-site. Additionally, as you say, he was disappointed with the alternative ports of the game - if his original masterpiece were available to play, it would afford him further burial rights of the inferior remakes.

If we were incredibly lucky, he might even be willing to recode that missing puzzle that he had to cut due to space considerations ... assuming of course that he still remembers the programming language & has the source ... :roll:

In any case, I felt it would have been out of place of me to approach Cliff Johnson before discussing the prospect with you guys. What if he said 'yes' and you said 'no' ..? Wouldn't want to hurt anyone's feelings - even if it ultimately isn't a reflection on our perception of his work.

EDIT: The first question that must be considered, I suppose, is whether or not Fool's Errand would be acceptable by ScummVM's mission statement (so to speak). If for a moment we suppose that it was, in theory, given the thumbs up ... what would the next step be?

Is each supported game simply championed by one of the developers after authorization has been acquired? Or is it perhaps simply added to a team list of things to tackle?

Again, theoretically, if I were able to get Cliff Johnson's permission - perhaps even assistance - would this have any bearing on whether or not the team &/or individual delevopers would be willing to work on support for the game within ScummVM?

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Post by Pseudo_Intellectual » Sun Oct 14, 2012 5:04 am

Ha. Six years later I wander in here to ask exactly the same question. (Except that this time, I hope that his sequel actually is released at the end of the month, as planned.)

Cliff seems inclined enough to give away his past works for free for posterity, and technical enough that he can give us screen shots from puzzles he cut from a game decades ago. Once he's at loose ends after his game releases, he might well potentially be up to helping us ensure that his games remain playable on all sorts of platforms into the foreseeable future.

Or he might not. But again, it's worth asking if they might fit here (where, in the meantime, we've been busy getting Myst and the 7th Guest supported -- spiritual inheritors of his puzzle-collection legacy) before asking him for help.

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Post by Jorpho » Sun Oct 14, 2012 5:50 am

The solution Mr. Johnson provides to get his old games running under Windows is Executor, a relatively inaccurate Macintosh emulator that has the advantages of not requiring a copyrighted Apple BIOS ROM or indeed any other software from Apple.

I've often mused that the best way to port his games properly would be to instead hack away at the Executor source and make something specifically targeted towards the individual games themselves, with OS-native widgets. (Back when Executor was a commercial product, its developers actually marketed a service called "carbonless copies" specifically for porting Macintosh software in this fashion.) It seems to me that this "top-down" approach might be better than trying to build things back up from scratch, especially since the source code for Executor is readily available.

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Post by Pseudo_Intellectual » Mon Oct 15, 2012 3:30 pm

Good to find I'm not the only one with these matters on their mind!

I was considering (someone) going even further, and looking into immortalizing his multimedia games.

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Post by Pseudo_Intellectual » Sat Oct 27, 2012 6:52 am

I gather it's out now; some interesting tidbits from the interview at http://www.justadventure.com/article/28 ... -his-money

I: "For years you've been generously offering your earlier games, Fool's Errand, At the Carnival, and 3 in Three, for free download on your Fool's Gold website. But a Classic Mac or a facility with emulators is required. All three seem ideal for the iPhone/iPad. Is converting them feasible? Weren't they all built on and for the original Macintosh?

C: Yes, Fool was made on a Mac 512K and Carnival & Three on the first color Mac.

Converting them would require a total make-over.

I’d rather get a hundred thousand paper cuts on my face.

I: Dare I ask the same about Merlin's Apprentice and Labyrinth of Crete? Two more excellent puzzle games you made for the Philips early CD-i game system. Convertible? Or nigh on impossible?

C: I have the Philips products well-documented on DVD. The computer assets, owned by Philips, are lost and gone forever.

...

I don't know if this indicates active disinterest or mere ignorance of the method here. I like to think it's still worth pursuing 8)

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